- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 14, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Proponents of a national health plan need look no further than Medicare to see how well such a plan would work. Medicare has a $38 trillion unfunded liability and has not balanced its budget in at least two decades.

Last July, a congressional committee found that Medicare improperly paid $33.8 billion in 2004 and 2005. The same report noted that an additional $60 million to $92 million was improperly paid to dishonest Part B medical suppliers using the ID numbers of dead doctors. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) cuts hospital and physician fees whenever it wants, and those fees are currently 20 percent to 30 percent below private sector payment rates.

CMS is one of the biggest entitlement time bombs in the country.

Merely servicing the current system for the 46 percent of Americans already receiving government coverage will require higher premiums and curtailment of existing services. In May, the Kaiser Family Foundation reported that the current $96.40 Medicare Part B premiums will increase to $120.20 in 2011. Additional government price controls and U.S.S.R.-type-reimbursement rates will have to be implemented just to maintain the status quo.

Does anyone other than Democrats and pandering Republicans really believe we can make health care more affordable by creating another entitlement?

DEAN GEORGE

Nashville, Ind.

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